Breast cancer drugs can also be used to treat certain targeted therapy resistant lung cancers, according to a new study. The study, conducted on mice, found that the mutations in the gene EGFR were responsible for certain lung tumors in mice. When protein p110a was blocked by drugs, the tumor shrank in size.
P110a blocking drugs are currently undergoing clinical trials against certain types of breast cancers, showing potential for use in other therapeutic areas.The findings can help EGFR mutant lung cancer patients who are undergoing treatment. Presently, the EGFR mutant lung cancer patients are treated with certain targeted therapies but unfortunately the tumors have shown a tendency to become drug resistant after initial years of therapy.
When the first line of therapy is over, it is usually followed by chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is non-targeted, and the potential side effects have created challenges. Chemotherapy has not been very effective and medical fraternity is on a lookout for a viable alternative. Researchers are now exploring the possibility whether p110a inhibitor drugs can be used for a second line of therapy in place of chemotherapy.
The team of researchers led by Dr. Julian Downward of the Francis Crick Institute and Institute of Cancer Research in United Kingdomare studying the interaction between the p110a and RAS protein. Mutation in the RAS gene is the cause of one fifth of all cancers. The unfettered growth caused by this gene is the focal point of this study.
The post intervention results of the study are quite stunning. Before the treatment, two thirds of the lung space was occupied by the tumor. When the interaction between p110a protein and RAS gene was blocked, it shrank to one tenth of the lung space.
Very few side effects were noticed in the drug trails. The trials were conducted only on mice, a rare genetic technique not possibly viable for treatment on human subjects was used. Even though Dr. Julian sees great future in blocking this pathway, he clarifies that the research is still in preliminary stages and many years away from the clinic.